It was a Saturday, When we were in Bhubaneswar (Odisha, India). A road trip by car was finalised to explore ‘Lalitagiri Caves’, around 90 Kms from Bhubaneswar city. The Lalitagiri caves are famous Buddhist Heritage site, well known for 1st century sculptures. All prepared for the one and half hours driving trip, we (I along with my husband) started off early morning at around 9:30 am. Leaving behind the city traffic, and Passing by the highway crossings, we were so elated and excited, as the milestone indicated the right turn for our destination.
Just when we were about 2.5 km from the caves, the road was blocked by heaps and stacks of wheat crop, laid on the road for sun drying. On both sides of the road were agricultural fields, and the owner of the stack could not be seen. We decided to inform our arrival through our car horn, which we had to blow continuously for 15-20 minutes. Our call was answered by 6 local farmers who appeared from small huts at the end of the field. We tried to inquire if it was the way to Lalitagiri caves. They confidently told that yes! This was the correct and only way to reach Lalitagiri. Hence, we politely asked us to remove their belongings so that we could proceed, but our request was bluntly rejected. We were clearly and loudly advised to ‘Come another Day’! As we tried to convince them that we had come from far to visit those sculptures, they were bit annoyed. Since we outnumbered the local group, we had no choice but to accept their unfair claim on the road.
Totally upset, frustrated and disappointed, as we were back on the Highway we noticed the sign board which said ‘Bhubaneswar 90 Km left, Paradip 65 Km right’. Hence to enrapture our saddened spirits we decided to take right. ‘If not Lalitagiri then atleast a stroll at Paradip beach’ was the motto. Great! All our discontent was wiped out by fresh enthusiasm to continue the trip.
We had covered almost 50 km and drove for almost an hour, when we found the traffic was getting slower and finally halted. The road was blocked by queues of heavy trucks, loading vans and other vehicles. Eventually our car had also become part of the queue with trucks in front of us and trucks behind us. Puzzled and confused, we got down the car to ask the traffic officer if we were on the way to the beach. We were confirmed by the officer that that the road taken for beach was right, but due to Over loading at the Paradip port the road was Jammed to distance of around 7-8 Km and was not expected to clear in less than 3 hours. The turn for the beach was still 5 Km away. Once again we were asked to ‘Come another Day’. We had to move at tortoise speed for another half a mile to find the U-turn, which we covered in more than an hour. It was already late afternoon and we had lost all hopes of wonderful excursion!
After driving for almost all the day and reaching nowhere, drained of energy and optimism, we were on our way back to hotel. The famous quote of Greg Anderson ‘Focus on the Journey not the destination’ also could not console our sad souls!